cooling down the feet after a long walk.
we watched nomadland sometime ago, and it made me think back to our own campervan trip in november last year, and all the other things i haven’t written about on the blog yet. well, no time like now, right?
we’d been meaning to do a campervan trip for a few years already — it was even on my previous 101 list! they’re a bit expensive to rent… but on the other hand, it’s like taking your home with you on a holiday — and in the middle of a pandemic, that seemed like a reasonably safe option for a short getaway. so we booked one for a few days last year and off we went!
i had never been inside of one, but it’s actually pretty nice and the space is all neatly optimized (these guys did a good tour of the van and its features).
before trying it out, i was a bit concerned about whether we’d be comfortable sleeping there, but it wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as i had imagined… though on the last day we parked on a bit of a slope which definitely didn’t help! otherwise, everything was rather straightforward and easy enough, even the water/electrical bits. we made decaf and cooked simple meals, gave the shower a try, and also tried staying at different camping grounds, which we had all to ourselves that late in the season.
for the most part, the plan was to go visit our favourite spots in the southwest coast and alentejo, do a bit of hiking and birdwatching and just chill, away from everyone. the weather was nice and sunny, so we took our time lazily driving around and checking out some trails we had long bookmarked. one was a really easy circular path around the barão de são joão, which featured nice views, stone pine woods and lots of sculptures mixed in.
we checked out the abetardas trail, and did the scenic route through the cliffs. the southwest coast was still as beautiful as we remembered it, and after such an intense year, we really needed those blue skies and salty air to recharge.
we enjoyed the experience and will probably repeat it at some point – maybe even upgrade to a van with solar panels! :)
one of the last hikes in the island was the PRC8PIC in s. roque, on the north coast of pico. it’s famed for the many water mills that line the path up the hill, though of those only the outer structure remains. still, the walk and the views are really nice. parts of the trail go through sunken paths where cows peek at us from above, or river beds of volcanic rocks softened by water and rolling stones. a nice, quick walk to stretch and remove some of the soreness from our tired legs, after climbing pico.
and i think that’s it for the pico adventures! these were some magical 2 weeks in the land of volcanoes, and i can’t wait to one day go back and explore some more. :)
with many things in life, i’m a fan of jumping off into the deep end of the pool and then somehow finding a way out. this was sort of our approach to climbing pico, a “let’s go and see what happens — hopefully we’ll make it!” kind of attitude. so, when a rare sunny day popped up on the meteorology report, we signed up for the climb, checked in to get our gps trackers and off we went!
the tallest mountain in portugal might not be very tall by other countries’ standards, but it was plenty tall for us – and a volcano on top of that! the path there is all volcanic rock, sometimes lava flows that turned into solid rock, and sometimes just loose spiky rocks that slip like sand underneath your feet, making the hike hard. the path is not really a path — more like a collection of numbered wooden posts that hint the general direction you should be heading in, but it’s enough to guide.
the views are spectacular though, and distract you from the pain. on the way up we could see faial in the distance, then we went through some misty clouds for a bit, then popped up above them again as we reached the summit. the last 70m of piquinho’s ascent are extra tough, but worth it for the view from up there and the feeling of accomplishing something hard!
i was surprised to see that the volcano is still showing signs of some activity, with fumaroles evaporating steam up there at the very top of it — the last eruption was in 1718 already! we snapped some pictures at the top, grabbed some lunch in the crater and then started to make our way down, which was extra rough and painful on the feet and knees. i landed on my butt three times, but luckily only scraped my hand and leg a bit (those rocks are sharp!).
after that, we showered, went to bed and proceeded to enjoy the accomplishment and not move much for the following few days… everything hurt! :S
will we ever get tired of hiking these canadas, the narrow paths bordered by wonky stone walls that skirt the fields in pico? not likely! :D here are some photos from PRC9PIC, just so that i can remember it later:
the last part of the trail is all near the coast, through rocky beaches and lava flows, the spray of the sea in our faces. we were so busy enjoying it that we somehow missed the casa do fio, the place where once the underground communication cables resurface. oh well!